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Community & Business

7 October, 2022

Former Oakey couple brings the gift of music to aged care community

An aged care community has come alive with the sound of piano music, following a generous donation from stalwarts of the Oakey community.


LEFT: Oakey couple Helen and Barry Bawden donated their piano to the Carinity Brownesholme aged care community in Highfields. RIGHT: Helen Bawden OAM with Carinity Brownesholme aged care Residential Manager, Jane Mackney.

A 100-year-old German-made piano has been gifted to The Residences at Brownesholme aged care by Barry and Helen Bawden OAM.

Helen’s father purchased the piano for her, second hand, when she was 14. 

She owned it for more than 60 years and is delighted that it is now bringing joy to others.

She was particularly happy to learn that Clare Bothmann, a friend of hers from Oakey who now lives at Brownesholme, is one of the residents who enjoys playing the piano.

“Clare says when she plays the piano the residents gather around and have a singalong with her,” Helen said.

“She told me that the sound coming out of the piano is just beautiful. 

“I was so thrilled to hear that.”

Brownesholme aged care Residential Manager Jane Mackney said music is a popular communal activity in the aged care community which brings much joy to residents.

“Playing the piano helps our residents with their cognitive abilities and dexterity and singing along to the music has therapeutic benefits,” she said.

“As soon as our residents hear the piano being played, they come out of their rooms.”

Jane said the piano music was having a positive effect for residents, including those living with dementia.

“Hearing familiar songs brings back fond memories and elicits positive emotional responses. 

“Residents remember the music, sing the words and engage with others, whereas previously they might not have communicated much at all.”

Carinity presented the Bawdens with a Certificate of Appreciation for their kind donation, which also included a piano stool containing sheet music.

A commemorative plaque also sits atop the century-old piano. 

An inscription on the piano cites it was “manufactured expressly” for Kuhnel & Co in Adelaide, the largest piano and organ store in Australia at the time.

Barry and Helen, who was awarded an Order of Australia medal for services to the Oakey community, recently moved to the Carinity Brownesholme retirement village adjacent to The Residences at Brownesholme aged care.

“My family had been at us to downsize for quite some time because they knew was it just too hard for me to manage a big house anymore, especially with my physical condition,” Helen said.

“We came to have a look at Brownesholme and fell in love with it. 

“We put our name down there and then. 

“I never even looked at or thought about another retirement village at all.

“We love the area and the way the village is laid out. 

“It’s feels homely and the grounds are so beautiful. 

“There’s room if you want to have a garden and you can step outside in the sun and enjoy being amongst the trees in the outdoors.

“When we get to the stage where we can’t look after ourselves anymore, we will move over to the aged care at Brownesholme.

“It will be like we’re coming home to our old piano!”


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